Thursday, October 27, 2005

Review: Serenity

If you know any of the devoted fans of the cancelled TV sci-fi series "Firefly", you're probably familiar with the question, 'Have you seen Serenity yet?' I capitulated to this request some weeks ago and now one movie and thirteen episodes later I have emerged with one question. Have you seen Serenity yet?

It's hard to explain to "Firefly" virgin why the show and the movie that caps it off are so awesome, but that won't stop me from trying. First, it's sci-fi and western rolled into one using the best parts of both genres. Second, it evokes that feeling you got from watching the first three Star Wars films and wished you'd got from the last three. And finally it's set in an anti-Star Trek universe where the bad guys spread 'civilization' riding starships with lasers while those left on the margins suffer and die.

The guy behind "Firefly" and Serenity is the writer/director Joss Whedon of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame (or infamy). I guess he's known for his witty repartee and character development. Judging by the strong script on which this film rests he won't be loosing that reputation any time soon.

The actors are all people you've never heard of, but they come through with great performances. Nathan Fillion, a native Edmontonian, plays the leading role as captain of the titled space ship and is the Han Solo of his generation (last Star Wars comparison, I promise.). If I had to single out another performance it would be Chiwetel Ejiofor's unique and compelling villain, The Operative.

I have hardly any quibbles with Serenity; it is a nearly flawless film. Although you will certainly get more out of it if you have watched the preceding series, it by no means excludes the uninitiated. One could make the argument that by the end Serentiy descends into space-opera camp, but this can be forgiven in light of the moral complexities it explores.

I recommend Serenity to any movie fan who loves great action, dialogue, and characters. However this movie does have some brutal violence. It's not on a Saving Private Ryan or Passion of the Christ level, but you may want to avoid it if you're squeamish. You will also want to avoid this film if you don't want to get hooked on a certain cancelled television series with 13 episodes and about 11 good ones.

FIREFLYFANS.NET is the fansite for all things Firefly.

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